Today I finally found time to carefully read the evals from my sessions at Southwest Fox. Thanks to all of you who attended one of my sessions and took the time to comment. To those who had good things to say, thanks for the kind words. To those who suggested ways in which I can improve, I genuinely appreciate your suggestions.
A Speakers' Dilemma
One thing I always wrestle with is how much content to try to fit into the allotted time. Like most speakers, I try to provide maximum content and hence maximum value in all my presentations. Sometimes, however, that comes at the expense of not leaving enough time for questions. Several people commented that this was a problem with both my sessions at Southwest Fox this year, and I want to let you know that I hear you.
I generally ask that questions be held until the end of the session. The reason for this is to ensure there's enough time to cover all the material. You might be surprised at how easily taking the time to answer just a handful of questions during a session can derail a carefully timed presentation. However, I realize that if I ask for questions to be deferred until the end, I'm also making an implicit agreement with the audience to leave enough time for those questions.
So, here's my main take-away from this year's evals: I need to be sure to leave time for Q & A even if it means trimming the session content a bit. As I think about it, that's a better formula for maximizing the value of a session anyway, because all of us (speakers included) learn from each other's questions. Besides, the white paper provides a place to put relevant content that doesn't fit in the verbal presentation.
I think leaving around five minutes for Q & A at the end of a 75-minute session feels about right. Any less is almost certainly not enough, while significantly more means that much less session content. But that's just my opinion. What do you think?
To the person who came up to me at the end of my Friday afternoon session on the FoxPro Foundation Classes: I apologize for putting you off and rushing out of the room. I had come down with some kind of 24-hour bug Thursday evening (and no, not from too much partying - really!). I was feeling pretty rocky all day Friday, and to be honest I wasn't sure I was going to make it through the entire Friday afternoon session. I came pretty close to losing it immediately after I finished speaking, and had to rush out of the room for a couple of minutes. When I got back, you had already left. If you are that person, I hope you will understand, and if you still have a question please e-mail me and I'll be happy to try to answer it.
Tags: Southwest Fox, SWFox, conferences, presentations